Ridiculous Beliefs: John Harvey Kellogg
At a time when the only breakfast options were eggs for the elite and porridge, gruel or boiled grains for the paupers, John Kellogg came along and championed the breakfast cereal, a happy medium bridging the worlds together. As much as he advocated for healthy eating and variety, he also served as a staunch proponent of sexual abstinence and practiced some ridiculous beliefs.
Dr. Kellogg believed that sexual activity should be discouraged, and acts such as masturbation were undermining all that was good in society. More bizarrely, Kellogg believed that nutrition—specifically, his cereal—could curb this sexual appetite. And if that didn’t slow your lust, Kellogg was unopposed to mutilation.
Among Kellogg’s more novel rehabilitation practices, he advocated for circumcising young boys to curb masturbation, and also applying carbolic acid to a young woman’s clitoris. His procedures were described in depth in his book “Plain Facts for Old and Young”:
“The prepuce, or foreskin, is drawn forward over the glans, and the needle to which the wire is attached is passed through from one side to the other. After drawing the wire through, the ends are twisted together, and cut off close. It is now impossible for an erection to occur, and the slight irritation thus produced acts as a most powerful means of overcoming the disposition to resort to the practice.”
Kellogg also encouraged tying the subject’s hands together, putting their genitals in special devices that would make an erection intolerably painful, electroshock therapy, sewing the foreskin shut and keeping the colon clean through yogurt enemas.